In a follow-up to my last post, Whatever You Do, Parents… , I am sharing the first of three things that I want my children (and others) to see in me because of my relationship with God.
The world that I grew up in was very different from today. Much of society valued church attendance and it was more “normal” to attend church than to not. This year will mark 24 years that my husband has pastored our current church. Our children have grown up here and we have watched other children who were born early in our ministry grow up, and now they are raising the next generation of Christ-followers.
Our culture is rapidly changing, and while we are increasingly seeing a world that devalues the church, we are also seeing a generation that is looking for authentic Christianity. Attending church used to be the social norm–now it seems to be the opposite; Sundays are filled with everything but church attendance. Blue laws would seem archaic to this century, as society trends more toward a day of recreation than a day of Sabbath rest and worship.
But church isn’t the answer. When I say, “let them see your faith”, I’m talking about more than just going to church for an hour a week–I’m talking about being the church. Our attitude should not be one of, “I have to go to church”, but rather, “I get to go to church”. Not to be a box you get to check off your spiritual to-do list, church attendance should be seen as a vital part of your spiritual growth–and something that you look forward to because it is an opportunity to gather together with other believers to worship, to grow, and to celebrate our risen Savior!
When my Mom had a stroke 18 month ago, we weren’t sure she would pull through. When she did wake up she was confused and lost somewhere in the past. At one point when she seemed almost delirious, my husband and I came into the room hearing her cry, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” and even wondered if meant she was going to die. At that point in her recovery she didn’t know where she was, or who we were, but she seemed to have a memory of JESUS.
In my anxiety over the thought of losing her, my prayer had been one of, “God, please give me peace about her eternal home.” While one might argue that she was dreaming or delirious, in my spirit I knew that the fact that I got to hear her crying out to Jesus was a gift. I certainly wasn’t with her around the clock, and that was the only time it happened that we are aware of. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
On another day my brother walked in and she was talking to an empty room. “Mom, who are you talking to?”, he asked her. “Jesus”, she replied. He laughed a little and said, “Oh, really? What did he say?” Her simple reply was, “He said I’m going to be okay.” My mom is still living today but has memory loss because of the stroke. Every week I get to enjoy her storytelling from the past. We laugh and cry together, and pray together. I have seen an answer to that prayer–and even though I have no confidence that she will regain her memory, I am blessed to see hear her talk about a faith that remains despite her circumstance. She constantly reminds me, “I couldn’t do this without the Lord!”.
Faith matters, people.
When I say “let them see your faith”, I’m talking about living out what you say you believe in front of your family–and it’s not just those littles that are watching. I have many in my own family who don’t follow Christ, and when they see my faith, I want them to see more than just, “She goes to church.”,
I want them to see that my faith changes everything.
But how? How does that happen?
By living out what you say you believe.
Am I different because I’m a believer? Do I see myself more concerned with what I see in the mirror or how much money is in my pocketbook than I am with what is going on in my heart?
If you go back to Philippians 1, Paul says, “For me, living is Christ and dying is gain.” He is saying that as long as God gives him breath–whether he lives, or whether he dies and goes into His presence, this life is to be all about Christ: loving Him, serving Him, and sharing Him with others.
God’s Word, the Bible is to be our source of truth. This is no ordinary book; this is God’s story and God’s plan for all of humanity. Do your children see you reading it? Dwelling on it? Talking about it? Are you investing in their spiritual growth or trusting someone at church to do it? Are you using Scripture to teach them what is right/wrong? The world says there is no absolute truth–that it’s all relative; but God, in His Word, says something very different.
“Imprint these words of mine on your hearts and minds, bind them as a sign on your hands, and let them be a symbol on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates…” Deuteronomy 11:18-20
Are you focusing on what you know is “true, noble, just, pure, and pleasing to God” on a daily basis? Is your home full of praise and thankfulness and grace and forgiveness? Is God’s Word a constant source of wisdom in your parenting and other relationships? Is having a godly character a priority?
Living out your faith can be a struggle if you try to do it in your own strength. The good news is that even when we are trying to focus on the things that we know are good and true and right, (verse 8) we are not alone.
Look at verse 9:
“Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of Peace will be with you.”
It’s not uncommon for us to feel like we are constantly serving someone else. The modern woman would say, “take care of yourself”, but Jesus said, “On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life—a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20: 26-28)
When you feel alone and tired in your struggles–when you feel like throwing in the towel, literally, because you feel like you have been taking care of everyone but yourself… Remember Jesus is our example. He got down on His hands and knees and washed the disciples filthy, dirty feet. Even the feet of Judas, the one He knew would betray Him. So guess what?
We are never more like Jesus than when we are serving and sacrificing. The ministry that God has given you in your own home is an important one–so let them see your faith.
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